To see Ethan Johnson smiling while gliding swiftly across the ice is to witness joy. The fact that there was a time when Ethan’s parents were told he might never walk on his own, much less skate, makes these moments all the more meaningful. Ethan was diagnosed with bilateral clubfoot after he was born. He received treatment but at 15 months, he still wasn’t walking. The Johnsons met with Stephen Sundberg, MD at Gillette Children’s to discuss their concerns. “I remember that Dr. Sundberg came into the room and took a look at Ethan’s feet. It didn’t take long, he told us this isn’t clubfoot, it’s arthrogryposis,” Ethan’s mother, Sarah says. After having the right diagnosis and an additional surgery with Sundberg, Ethan was playing hockey by kindergarten, but it wasn’t always easy for him. To help, the Orthotics Prosthetics and Seating team at Gillette fashioned a device that’d fit around his skates to help give him the leverage to push off and glide.
“The transformation was remarkable,” Ethan’s parents recall. “Ethan struggled at the first practice. We went out to the rink later with a walker for him to practice on his own, but then he just took off and didn’t need it. To see him gliding around out there for the first time was incredible and we are so thankful to the people at Gillette who made it possible.”